Parish Stories

St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church

West Bloomfield Township, MI Archdiocese of Detroit

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"I offer it in prayer to someone else"

Vanessa Denha-Garmo

When I was younger and used to complain about the bullies at school, my dad used to tell me to pray for them. As a kid, I was annoyed that he would even suggest such a thing; they were mean kids, after all. ‘Why would I pray for someone who hurt me?’

He continued with the same message as I grew older. I remember early on in my career, working full time as a reporter, I complained how some people at work were toxic. He would, once again, tell me to pray for them. Finally, I got upset and I asked him why he would tell me to pray for them. These were not good people, I declared. ‘That’s the point,’ he said. 

He asked me a question that I still think about today: If they had peace in their hearts, would they hurt me? 

It was one of the earliest epiphany moments in my life that I remember. God calls us to pray for those who persecute us. I’ve experienced many adverse situations over the years. Today, the world is very divided and with social media, meanness seems to have increased ten-fold since I first encountered the bullies on the playground. 

Years after my dad’s death, I can still hear his voice in my head saying, ‘Pray for them, brati’ (‘my daughter’ in Aramaic). As I grew older and my faith grew, I prayed more for these people. I would dedicate a Rosary to them or pray for them in adoration. However, I began to see the most profound changes when I started to offer my Eucharist in Mass for such people. 

For several years, there were two people who I prayed for the most while offering my Eucharist for them. Over time, my relationship with one strengthened, and the other one is no longer part of my everyday life. It was as if God was showing me the kindness in the one person who I grew closer to while he moved the other person right out of my life.

Every time I receive communion, I offer it in prayer for someone else, particularly someone who upsets me the most. This practice has given me such peace. Although I was praying for others, it was my own heart that was healing. My hope at every Mass is that my prayers offer peace to those for whom I offer up the Eucharist.

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